Carmody wrote:So, now that I am at the B1 level in my French studies, I seem at a total loss to understand the spoken language at the regular speed. In understanding conversational French I am at the A2 level at best. However, I do continue to try and persevere and one of my sources is the Public Sénat website which has conversations that I am able to struggle through with.
Being caught in this intermediate no-man's land with need for native resources is tough. Movies and the usual TV sitcoms, mystery and detective shows are just too fast for me and a waste of time. Looks like I need to spend more time time with L'Avis de Marie and other podcasts. Marie is wonderful.
Speakeasy wrote:Carmody, thank you very much for your honest and heartfelt expression of the difficulties and frustrations associated with studying a second language. Despite the misleading advertising of most publishers of language courses, your experience is actually quite common.
If it is any consolation to you, in the preface of one of my older A2-B1 German courses, the author, in a refreshing display of truthfulness, wrote: “Do not expect to be able to understand native speakers upon completion of this course. That is not the goal of this course, they speak far too quickly and they use language that you will not have been introduced to either in this or in any other course at this level. The purpose of this course is to help you be understood by them …”
Exactly. You are not supposed to understand full speed French at B1, you are doing just fine. I don't know where this sudden trend comes from, people expecting the impossible at the early levels. I've even seen beginners after a few units of a beginner course complaining on reddit or duolingo about not understanding full speed natives. Really, don't worry about it
I was understanding the normal natives quite well and the original tv series almost not at all at B2, so imagine how useless at the full speed French would I have been at B1, had I tried. B1 is simply not C1. There is no reason to feel discouraged, you are doing really well, you just need to keep going.
I recommend starting with easier stuff and improving from there. The audiobooks are awesome and you will surely find something suitable for you. Graded readers (which some publishers add a CD to) still have a place in a B1 learner's regime. Easier stuff like RFI programs for learners. Lyricstraining. If you really want to take a faster and steeper learning curve of a tv series, get a good quality dubbing of something you know well in Enlish and/or study the transcript before watching.
And a coursebook with lots of audio chosen for your level could help too. I think Édito by Didier could be a nice choice (it even comes with a DVD that looks promising, stuff like that wasn't available back when I was at that level), or some of the DELF preparation books (those are the absolutely most precise sources of stuff you should know at the level and as natural as possible at that level). Or practice books like this https://www.cle-international.com/comprehension-orale-2-niveau-b1-livre-cd-2eme-edition-9782090380057.html
or online material of the same kind. Many learners underestimate the resources actually meant for them. I would say the CD coming with a coursebook is the most underestimated and underused part of it, and I used to make this mistake too and wasted lots of time looking elsewhere. It is popular these days to bash textbooks and accuse them of being unnatural and actually harmful to learners and far away from the real life. This is not true anymore. Anyone doing a bit of research on what to buy is bound to find something good. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.
The French teaching resources have improved immensely during the last ten years. The complaints were completely founded back when crap courses like Panorama were the newest and most popular ones in classes and when it was normal to pay twice as much for the separate CDs (or cassettes) than for the coursebook itself. And the internet was still rather new. Nowadays, it is not so.